Bragg’s Confederate army was not only beaten, but hopelessly demoralized by the fiery Union assault, and fled in panic and retreat. Grant kept up a vigorous pursuit to a distance of twenty miles, which he ceased in order to send an immediate strong reinforcement under Sherman to relieve Burnside, besieged by the Confederate General Longstreet at Knoxville. But before this help arrived, Burnside had repulsed Longstreet who, promptly informed of the Chattanooga disaster, retreated in the direction of Virginia. Not being pursued, however, this general again wintered in East Tennessee; and for the same reason, the beaten army of Bragg halted in its retreat from Missionary Ridge at Dalton, where it also went into winter quarters. The battle of Chattanooga had opened the great central gateway to the south, but the rebel army, still determined and formidable, yet lay in its path, only twenty-eight miles away.
Grant Lieutenant-General—Interview with Lincoln—Grant Visits Sherman—Plan of Campaigns—Lincoln to Grant—From the Wilderness to Cold Harbor—The Move to City Point—Siege of Petersburg—Early Menaces Washington—Lincoln under Fire—Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley
The army rank of lieutenant-general had, before the Civil War, been conferred only twice on American commanders; on Washington, for service in the War of Independence, and on Scott, for his conquest of Mexico. As a reward for the victories of Donelson, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, Congress passed, and the President signed in February, 1864, an act to revive that grade. Calling Grant to Washington, the President met him for the first time at a public reception at the Executive Mansion on March 8, when the famous general was received with all the manifestations of interest and enthusiasm possible in a social state ceremonial. On the following day, at one o’clock, the general’s formal investiture with his new rank and authority took place in the presence of Mr. Lincoln, the cabinet, and a few other officials.
“General Grant,” said the President, “the nation’s appreciation of what you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains to do in the existing great struggle, are now presented, with this commission constituting you Lieutenant-General in the Army of the United States. With this high honor devolves upon you, also, a corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add that with what I here speak for the nation, goes my own hearty personal concurrence.”
General Grant’s reply was modest and also very brief:
“Mr. President, I accept this commission with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on so many fields for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me; and I know that if they are met, it will be due to those armies, and above all to the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men.”